By Melissa Keogh
SACARE, a family-owned business providing housing and services for people with a disability, has increased its workforce by 30% in 12 months and increased turnover by $7.5m in the past two-and-a-half years.
The business’s general manager of client relations and service delivery, Chloe Kempe, says business will only continue to grow as the state benefits from the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) into 2018.
“It will continue to grow like that over coming years, particularly with the NDIS and the need for more support workers,” she says.
“We’re currently sitting at 411 employees across a mix of casual, full-time and part-time roles.”
“We’re currently holding recruitment days every fortnight when we’re interviewing up to 25 individuals for positions, and that’s support workers alone.”
The $22 billion NDIS supports Australians with disabilities aged under 65 by giving them greater control over how their support funding is spent.
Participants receive a tailored funding package to help them complete everyday living activities and reach long-term goals.
Once fully implemented in SA from July 1, 2018, the NDIS will benefit more than 32,000 people with disabilities.
SACARE is one of many local businesses gearing up for the major social reform, which Chloe says will create much greater competition among a growing number of service providers.
She says it’s therefore important for the industry to maintain exceptional workforce and service delivery standards.
“The NDIS is really positive for the industry and it’s a great opportunity for us, but it creates a lot more competition because people see the financial benefit of entering the (disability) industry,” Chloe says.
“It’s a really good opportunity to define the services we’re good at and ensure that we maintain those services.
“We’ve opened up to a whole new marketplace, but the biggest challenge will be finding those remaining support workers who really share our values and expectations of service. I’m confident we can do that.”
SACARE was established in 1991 by Chloe’s parents, Sue and Andrew Marshall.
Both with a background in health, disability and mental health, the pair longed for vulnerable people to have improved services and higher quality care.
Their two other children, Lachie and Alex, are also involved in the business which has supported independent living options in North Adelaide, Hope Valley, Prospect, Magill and Kingswood.
Both the Magill and Kingswood homes are recent additions which Chloe says have attributed to workforce and revenue growth in the past year.
Earlier in 2018, SACARE began building its latest facility, The Gums, at Salisbury in Adelaide’s north.
It’s the business’s first entry into the rehabilitation space and will support people with spinal cord and brain injuries, helping them transition more easily back into their own homes or permanent SACARE housing.
It’s due for completion by November this year and is expected to create up to 155 ongoing jobs.
Chloe says SACARE’s clients are typically aged under 65 and have physical, neurological or intellectual disabilities or mental health issues.
She says that while the organisation doesn’t specialise in aged care, it doesn’t discriminate against age and continues to support clients as they age past 65.
She says the business also strives to keep younger people with disabilities out of nursing homes.
Many young Australians with disabilities and complex support needs are forced to live in aged care homes because they’re unable to find suitable accommodation.
Chloe has been in her current role for 12 years after a career in public relations, marketing and event management within hotels.
She says job opportunities in the disability sector are diverse.
“I think that disability has always been a confronting sector … and people see it as doing those personal care duties like taking people to the toilet or showering them,” Chloe says.
“But it’s so much more than that. There are digital marketing positions, executive positions, diversional therapy positions, you have genuine career opportunities.
“It’s exciting to see young individuals embracing it.”
The rollout of the NDIS is expected to almost double SA’s disability sector workforce by 2019.
Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.